Well, Mufasa, I think between the interview and the “Bodybuilding is Dead” Guest Atomic Dog I wrote a while back, you know my opinions, but let’s flip the script just for a second.
Think about this: what is it that you do that you want to be the best at? What do you do for a living or for a hobby that you want to excel at, something you get paid for or maybe just get a big ego boost from, or both? What is your passion? It doesn’t matter if you’re a computer programmer, an artist, a mailman, or a trainer, just think about what it is that you do.
Now, imagine that you decided a long time ago to dedicate your life to this field. You sacrificed everything else to be the best at it and to make a living from it. You changed your life. Turns out you were good at it, and you had a talent for it. You had the drive and the genetics (if that applies). And you wanted this more than anything. And now, because you’ve given up everything else - other jobs, more education, relationships, etc - it’s all you know how to do.
Now imagine that you reach a point where hard work and natural talent have peaked out. It doesn’t matter if you work hard - you can’t work any harder and you’re already working harder than anyone else - and it doesn’t matter if you’re gifted in this field because EVERYONE at your level is gifted. Yet on a scale from 1-10, you’re only at a 7 in your field. You haven’t even cracked the top level; no one else in your field knows you or respects you.
The only way to go further is to use drugs. Illegal drugs. Drugs that can damage your health. But this is all you’ve every wanted, you HAVE to take this step because, well, what else would you do, apply at Burger King? It’s all you have. You take the drugs and rise to an 8. Now what? you think. Well, turns out those “better” than you take a LOT of drugs, they push way past the safe point. So you do too. And you rise to a 9. You take more drugs, higher amounts, more variety, etc and finally you’re a 10. Only now instead of being the best, you’re simply on par with hundreds of others in your field. Sure, these are top level people, but you’re not #1 or anything. But you’ve come this far…
For a pro-bodybuilder being a 10 means you might get your picture in a magazine or maybe get your pro-card. Being 10 doesn’t mean you even crack the top ten at the Mr. O. You’ve come this far, so you go further, you use synthol, you perform a sexual favor for a judge, you get plastic surgery, you shove every drug you can find into your system, you sign what’s left of you life away, nothing matters now, you’re so close, you must win, win, WIN! Now you MIGHT crack the top 10 at the Mr. O. But now you’re getting older and your body is rebelling. Age and injuries catch up with you, but you haven’t accomplished what you’ve set out to do yet. So you take more and more risks. Maybe you win a big trophy and get a fat supplement contract (so you can hawk a supplement you don’t even use - good thing you’ve lost any sense of right and wrong a long time ago - and besides you have to make a living) or maybe you die, or at least die too young, broken and bitter. (See Mentzer.) Or maybe you just go to jail.
So that’s what most pros deal with. They’ve often sacrificed their whole lives for this “sport”. They know nothing else. They’ve come so far, they can’t stop. Their entire self esteem and identity is wrapped up in being the “big guy”.
You know, we often speak despairingly against those who appear on the pro scene for a while, then disappear into oblivion. But maybe they’re the smart ones. Maybe they realized that living past 50 is more important, or being there for their kids, or being healthy and smaller, rather than bigger and sicker. Makes you almost feel sorry for the pros that go all the way. Almost.
And the worst part is that half of the people look at the pros and get scared away from weight training (especially women), the other half gets discouraged because they used Lee Priest’s arm routine they read about in Flex, they take the supplements he pushes, and they look nothing like him (these are usual young, naive guys.) All this has caused me to disregard high level competitive bodybuilding - hence the “Bodybuilding is Dead” article. There’s weight training and improving your mind and body, and then there’s pro-bodybuilding. Two different worlds. I love the first and disregard the second.
This is why I’ve started a new series for T-mag tentatively called “Real Muscle, Real People”. The series will focus on one person who’s changed his or her body with weight training and diet in a healthy manner, people who can be realistic role models and really inspire and teach others rather than fill them full of lies and disappointment, which is what I feel most pros do. (Sure, they may inspire you to begin with, but most see the truth after a few years.) The series would focus on real people with real jobs who’ve had to struggle to build their bodies - not genetic freaks who use buckets of drugs and do this for a living. I suppose this smacks a little of Body for Life, but this isn’t a competition or a marketing campaign. It’s just T-mag interviewing a real person who looks great and talking to him about how he did it and picking his brains about training and diet. The first article is almost complete, then I’ll be looking for other folks to be featured in the series. I’m hoping to find a few here on the T-Forum as a matter of fact.
Rant/Mini Atomic Dog/Article Sneak Preview over.